17th Century fiction
UNDERGARMENTS REVEALED, 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY
(an article by Diane Scott Lewis)
Determined to do accurate research on my historical novels, the most difficult and interesting task was to find out what people wore under all that clothing. Many writers have erred in this area, as in mentioning “bloomers” in the eighteenth century, an item which didn’t come into use until the 1850’s. My interests are mainly in the eighteenth to early nineteenth century, but for this post I’m slipping back into the seventeenth as well.
While in previous years undergarments were utilitarian, to throw off the strict hand of the Puritans, under the Stuarts underclothes took on more of a sexual allure. A man’s shirt became ruffled and more visible, with puffed sleeves tied in ribbons, to show him off as a fine gentleman.
Man’s Shirt & Waistcoat
Women’s dresses became less rigid, and cut to flaunt pretty petticoats. The petticoat, often several of them, was worn to give the outer gown a better shape, and I’m certain, important for warmth. It was often of embroidered or ruffled material in bright, attractive colors. Read the rest of this entry »
I have written one book: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem, published at the end of 2009, but a process begun in 1993 when I first picked the 1692 Salem witch hunt as the subject for a screenplay.
My research in those hard-to-imagine pre-internet days consisted of reading every book on Salem available in the Los Angeles Public Library; although some were too old and decrepit to be forwarded to my branch. I also searched through two university reference libraries. Of course, there were a handful of books I was able to take home for study.
Sometime while taking notes, I got bitten by the ghostly bug still haunting Salem that hunts for blood and an audience. And sometimes I had to implore the books I was skimming to help me weed out dramatic irrelevancies. In the end I had collected more than a thousand disparate but novel facts, most of which were later incorporated into my novel. 126 single- spaced typewritten pages, indexed by character, subject, and strangeness, each item prompting its own unique scrutinization and speculation, because of my having learned at film school that motivation is key to a well- constructed dramatic story.
I asked: Why would an indentured nineteen-year-old girl in Salem Village accuse a minister of witchcraft, a man she hasn’t seen for years but once dwelt with in childhood after being orphaned on the Maine frontier? And what was the relationship between that minister and her Salem master? And why would the wife of her master simultaneously accuse an elderly neighbor of murdering her newborns? And not just one infant, but several? Read the rest of this entry »
(This is a reprint of an article by Gillian Bagwell, Author of The September Queen and The Darling Srumpet)
I was thrilled that when my agent sold my first novel, The Darling Strumpet, she also sold my second book, as yet unwritten, and was very excited to have the opportunity to write the first fictional account of Jane Lane, an ordinary Staffordshire girl who risked her life to help the young Charles II escape after the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.
I wanted to retrace the path Jane had taken in her travels with Charles, and as some of the places associated with my story would be closing soon for the winter, and traveling around England wouldn’t get any easier as it got colder, wetter, and darker, I immediately planned a research trip. My friend Alice Northgreaves and I set out from London on October 26, 2009, making our way to Worcester, the site of the battle, from which Charles had fled to Staffordshire, where Jane became involved in his desperate flight.
Charles’s six-week odyssey covered more than 600 miles before he was finally able to sail from Shoreham near Brighton on October 15. After he was restored to the throne in 1660, the story of his escape became known as the Royal Miracle, because of the numerous times he narrowly eluded capture. He told the story to Samuel Pepys, and others also recorded their parts in it, so that the route of his travels is well known. The Monarch’s Way footpath can still be followed. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the popular YouTube video of our Gillian Bagwell doing a reading of her book The Darling Strumpet, with C. C. Humphreys and Diana Gabaldon at the Historical Novel Society conference in June. Gillian reads the part of Nell Gwynn, the darling strumpet of King Charles II. Be prepared for a graphic lesson in all things strumpet!